Exhibition - "I've Been Working On The Railway"

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Fintan O'Laighin
Permanent Fixture at Bear Park
Permanent Fixture at Bear Park

Joined: 17 Apr 2003
Posts: 3613
Location: Canberra

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:41 pm    Post subject: Exhibition - "I've Been Working On The Railway" Reply with quote

What's this got to do with the Bears you're wondering?

But before answering that, "I've Been Working On The Railway" is the name of a touring exhibition curated by the Workshops Rail Museum in Queensland and is on at the National Archives in Canberra until 18th May 2014. See www.naa.gov.au/visit-us/exhibitions/railway/index.aspx.

It focuses on the huge numbers of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander people who helped build the railways, particularly in northern Australia. Besides photos of the work, it includes a lot of cultural things, including sport.

One of the photos on display is a team photo of the Hornibrook Dodgers football team c. 1960 which was made up mainly of TSI'ers, with a couple of Aborigines and a couple of SSI'ers. The accompanying text says that "Their captain George Ambrum later played for St George in Sydney."

St George! He played for Norths from 1966 to 1974. I've fired off a (friendly) e-mail to the curator pointing out the error and drawing his attention to the entry on George Ambrum on the Rugby League Project - see extract below.

I couldn't find much on the Hornibrook Dodgers but did come across a reference at www.facebook.com/notes/daniel-dow/torres-strait-railways-history/10150375850641369 which says that:

"Torres Strait Islander workers laid much of the rail infrastructure for Queensland and Western Australian Mining.

They made a name for themselves as hard and diligent workers on the 'Hornibrook Townsville to Mt Isa rail upgrade' in the early 60’s. Working from first light to dusk, they worked hard and played hard; even entering a football team into the local Cloncurry & Districts Rugby League comp.

The Hornibrook Dodgers won the premiership every year for the three years of the line upgrade… Their training sessions would consist of the truck dropping them miles away from camp with the gang jogging the rest of the way … after work!"

www.rugbyleagueproject.org/players/george-ambrum/summary.html - extract below; see the full page for stats and other info.


Nuggety Cairns (Queensland) centre was signed by Norths, along with older brother Johnny, after being recommended to the club by champion Aboriginal athlete and former Leeds footballer Wally McArthur in 1963. Ambrum spent several seasons in the lower grades before cementing a first grade spot as a winger in the late 1960s. The likeable Thursday Islander became a crowd favourite with Norths fans and spent a highly successful stint with Bradford Northern in 1967-68 (Ambrum captained the English club against the Kangaroos that winter). Despite not having played for City or NSW in 1972 Ambrum was selected for Australia as a winger in 1972’s Trans Tasman series. He earned the distinction of scoring a try with his first touch of the ball in international football – the first of a double in Australia’s 36-11 win in the First Test. Ambrum played in both Tests against NZ that year but a knee cartilage operation robbed him of the chance to play in the World Cup at year's end. After his Sydney career ended, Ambrum joined Cessnock in the Newcastle competition and won a premiership with the club in 1977. Sadly, he passed away while playing touch football at Cessnock in 1986 aged just 43.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a shame that you couldn't punish this effrontery by 'attaching' anthrax to the email.
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